Connected Learning

Jarrod Lamshed


Sparking Change

Change is a funny thing. Some people like it, but for many it brings about feelings of discomfort and anxiety. Being a member of the first group, I find the challenge that change brings exciting. The opportunity to participate in new learning is something that is fairly unique to our profession. In many jobs new information is distributed, but teachers get to participate in the learning. We get to take new ideas and try them out. We have the luxury (for the most part) to decide if something new improves the learning in our classrooms or not and then decide what to add to our practice and what to leave out.

The process we go through in doing this is extremely valuable. It challenges the ideas we have about how students learn and, just as importantly, it challenges our own learning. I firmly believe that a growth mindset is necessary for us to do our jobs properly. Being unwilling to consider new ideas is detrimental to our student’s learning. One of the most powerful things we can do is model learning to our kids. It shows them that we are the ‘life long learners’ that we want them to be.

Having said this, the realities of our day to day work are often harsh. The overwhelming feeling of having ‘too many balls in the air’ can plunge us into our default modes very quickly. It’s not ideal, but it’s a real thing. When we are stressed and busy we fall back to what we know works and it can feel like there isn’t time to try new things.

So how do we break through this feeling? I don’t know that there’s an easy answer. For me, it was being exposed to some high level professional development at an EdTechSA (formerly CEGSA) conference. I was already engaging with new learning regularly, but for whatever reason, the connections I made both to what was being said by the keynotes and in my discussions with other attendees left me with a need to commit myself deeper to new learning. George Couros, Summer Howarth and Louka Parry were some of these people.

I have been lucky enough to follow this up with regular, inspiring, professional development opportunities both locally and at two EduTech conferences in Brisbane. My connections (mostly through Twitter) with generous educators like Alec Couros and Stephen Heppell alongside a huge number of connected local and global school based teachers has helped me to continue my new learning every day.

In a few weeks, I look forward to taking 25 staff from my school to this year’s EduTech conference. This is a huge investment for our school but one that is well worth the cost. Over the last year I have asked our teachers to consider a lot of change and they have all shown a willingness to invest their time and effort in what I have had to say. To me, this says that our students are in good hands. I work with a group of teachers that have stepped a long way out of their comfort zone. For me, being able to take them to EduTech, I hope will provide an opportunity for our staff to make some new connections of their own.







ACEC 2014 – Digital Leaders – The View From the Sidelines

Over the last few days, I’ve been watching my Twitter feed with interest. This year’s ACEC event is in town and I am unable to be there. This is a little frustrating and pangs of jealousy keep creeping in as I read tweets about inspiring things. Even though I can’t be there in person, the power of social media allows me to be involved in the learning.

This year my son Matt is involved in the conference as a student digital leader. In the lead up to the event, a realisation that he’d agreed to do ‘school things’ for most of the first week of holidays kicked in, and his enthusiasm for the task ahead weakened. Even so, he trudged off to his first day of Digital Leader duties, not sure what to expect.

I wasn’t sure what to expect either. I am a big believer in the Digital Leader program and saw this as an opportunity for empowerment. A chance for him and his fellow students to show a large group of teachers what they are capable of. His despondent attitude on morning one, didn’t fill me with hopes of success. What we ended up with exceeded my expectations.

Coming home from day one, I had a child who was full of excitement for learning. He spoke of being able to learn ‘like a real person’. He felt that he was not only able to help others but that he had learned a lot at the same time. He talked about the connections he made with other students and the conversations he’d had with teachers from other schools. He recounted the conversations with event sponsors and with keynote speakers. During the course of the day he had had a light bulb moment and remembered that he actually loves learning.

One of the key aspects he has talked about each day was the ability to learn from people outside of his immediate circle. He was particularly interested in the ideas discussed by Alec Couros and was able to make direct links between these ideas and what was NOT happening for him at school.

Day two seemed just as exciting for him. He explored Google Glass with Kathy Schrock, and has seen how Twitter can play a part in not only sharing his learning (along with his blog) but for building a learning network outside of his classroom. He interviewed teachers and keynote speakers and discussed the ideas he’d heard about with his peers. As he told me about his day the term that kept repeating was “we can’t do that at school”.

So here is the dilemma. How does he go back to school and stay inspired about his learning? How do we, as teachers, go back to school and help our students to feel inspired? It’s a hard question…. maybe the students have the answer?


A Crazy Month of Learning

For about the last month, I have been on a massive learning journey. Beginning with the CEGSA 2012 conference in the school holidays, I have been exposed to information, discussion and new connections that have forced me to reflect and build on my ideas around the use of 21st century tools in the classroom and, more importantly, the way that they are presented to teachers and students.

ICTs have always been a big part of learning programs in my classroom. Engaging students through film and use of modern tools is a core part of what we do. The frustration for me has been getting others to give this type of learning a try. I think most of us agree that the ‘I don’t do computers’ attitude is unacceptable. In my efforts to combat this attitude I was failing at supporting other teachers in the way that THEY needed. On reflection, what I was doing was trying to support them with what I THOUGH they needed.

The work of Alec and George Couros has been a big part of this recent learning journey. The passionate presentations given at the CEGSA and Middle Years of Schooling Association conferences helped me to build on my use of 21C tools. It opened my eyes to new ways of connecting my learning. George and Alec refocussed the importance of strengthening my own PLN (of which they are now an important part) and also showed me ways that my students can access tools to build their own network of learners. Among my better, stronger PLN there have been many who have planted the seeds of some ideas I would like to see implemented in my school. Most importantly, I believe these new ideas will not only improve learning in my classroom, but offer a new way to present the use of 21C tools to other teachers in a differentiated and supportive way.


The Computers in Education Group of South Australia has been around for a long time, but has been pretty well ignored by our school. Not ignored through a lack of interest, but through being lost in the pile of ‘stuff’ that happens in schools. After the conference, and looking at the regular program of workshops that are available, I feel that this is a group that we should be promoting to staff in our school.

Digital Leaders

Through a TeachMeet and some Twitter discussions between Nick Jackson, and educator in the UK and Al Upton, a South Australian teacher, I have stumbled upon the idea of student as digital leaders in schools. Digital leaders would be responsible for trouble shooting IT issues but also for planning and implementing workshops and training for both other students and teachers. I see a huge advantage in this, not only for the learning of the leaders themselves but also for teachers. With the implementation of these leaders, both students and teachers will have access to more regular support and training on topics and tools that are relevant to them. They will have an opportunity to be guided as they learn along side their students.


TeachMeets are growing in popularity. I would like to see these become a regular part of our school environment. Perhaps a regular part of staff meeting time, and definitely among schools in our area. Having these regularly would better enable local connections but also offer a more regular time for sharing learning and ideas among our staff. The more we are accessing these tools, the more comfortable people will become with their use.

Our Online Identity 

Developing an online identity is becoming increasingly important. As a school (and as individuals) we need to take control of our online identity. Having a purposeful online presence has to be a better option than just reacting to ‘stuff’ that appears. Online spaces give us an opportunity to connect with families and potential families in places that they already go. It gives us a chance to get out the message that we want to get out. The school newsletter is not enough anymore.

Some of these things are pretty simple to put into action. Others require a shift in thinking from staff that haven’t had the privilege of participating in this learning over the last month. It is an exciting time.

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